By Peter Hermann
12:59 PM EDT, May 10, 2012
Police in Howard County say they busted a marijuana growing operation at a house in Laurel, seizing 341 plants that authorities estimate could yield 170 pounds of pot worth more than a half million dollars.
Police charged Manoj Unni, 30, of the 9300 block of Cross Timbers Court, with several drug counts. Police said they searched the house on Wednesday and found the alleged growing operation in the basement, with "sophisticated growing equipment."
Police said they found "high-intensity lights, a dehumidifier, air filters, water pumping systems, lighting timers, a CO2 system and a ventilation system."
The suspect has been freed on $25,000 bail.
UPDATE A reporter from the Howard County Times went to the police news conference, which offered more details:
Detectives were led to Unni's home by an anonymous tip, said police department spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn, which was followed by an undercover operation, including surveillance, that gave them probable cause for a search warrant.
"Our investigation doesn't end here. It really begins here," Llewellyn said. "We don't anticipate any other arrests for this particular growing operation, but our investigation will continue for what was happening with those drugs after they left his residence.
"At this point there's no indication that this is connected to anything of a larger scale."
The marijuana and books on growing it are being kept in a room at the Howard County Police Department. The marijuana will be destroyed, Llewellyn said.
In charging documents, police said "Unni should be considered a flight risk, as he has tickets to leave the country" on May 14.
Read more here.
Reporter David Greisman contributed to this report.
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